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Simon Cowell in a new interview for America's Got Talent

Simon Cowell on America's Got Talent

Simon Cowell joins America's Got Talent as a judge for season 11. Here is a first look at the auditions focused on Simon.

Simon also spoke to TV Insider magazine. While awaiting his arrival at an America's Got Talent audition, Heidi Klum said: “We’re usually waiting two hours for him. He plays the boss card, referring to Simon’s other role as co-creator and executive producer of the Got Talent worldwide franchise. “We call him ‘boss man’ around here. Like, ‘Boss man has arrived!’

Talking about joining AGT as a judge for the first time this year, Simon said: “Sometimes when I watch those American Idol clips, I do actually think I was just miserable!”

“I felt I was almost becoming a parody of myself, and it was embarrassing. Now I find the bad acts just funny. I’m still the same person, but you’ll see me liking a lot more people.”

Back in the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, the ringleader has settled into his seat and the audition circus begins. The first act, a singer from Brooklyn, walks to center stage wearing all white and holding a white guitar. She strums acoustic melodies while video images are projected onto the blank canvas of her instrument. Her performance ends with cheers from the masses, but the feeling in the room quickly shifts once Cowell opens his mouth. “Sometimes when I get a massage, they play music like that,” he says. “It was really boring.”

A chorus of boos rains down from the rafters. With a massive grin on his face, Cowell soaks in the familiar sound from the audience he’s spent years torturing.

“They love doing it, don’t they?” he says of the boos a few weeks later. “If someone’s bad, the American crowds are on their feet booing, and it makes me laugh. They always think I’m the mean one, and trust me, out of you lot [watching the show], I’m the nice one here.”

Cowell may have a long-standing reputation of being the “Mr. Nasty” judge, but his tablemates admit they didn’t know what to expect from their new coworker. “You hear all these different things through the grapevine like how Simon is so mean to the contestants and to all the other judges, but that’s really not the case,” Klum says. “I was very happily surprised.”

“The biggest surprise is we are laughing more than we have ever laughed before,” Mandel says. “Simon has a very dry sense of humor and sees the irony in silliness—and we get a lot of silliness on the show. He’s tough and hysterical, but he gets us in trouble a little bit.” Case in point: During one round of auditions, Cowell distributed a chewy candy to the others and told them to pop it in their mouths when the act was finished. “You couldn’t understand a word we were saying and we went into a fit of laughter,” Mel B. says. “We definitely get into naughtiness both on and off camera.”

Cowell’s chemistry with all three judges is undeniable, but he has a particularly infectious connection with Klum, who occupies the seat directly to his right. The bickering and bantering between the two echo Cowell’s interactions with Paula Abdul during the early days of American Idol. “Sometimes he will be talking when I’m talking and I have to nudge him under the desk. I don’t take any s--t from him,” Klum says. “I’m just really hoping he lets me do a makeover on him. He needs it, and a lot of people would appreciate that. He has to get out of the bell-bottoms.”

What Cowell may lack in fashion sense, he makes up for in his ability to find superstars. During his TV tenure in America and the U.K., Cowell has produced some of the most successful music acts in history, most notably boy band One Direction.

The winners of America’s Got Talent have ranged from magicians and ventriloquists to a dance troupe and even a group of jump-roping dogs, but Cowell believes the show is a viable platform to find the next big vocalist. “I was very disappointed with the music in the past,” Cowell admits. “But across the first few episodes, we have—thank God—attracted some good singers. You only need one per year, but we want and need singers, and that is the main difference I’m going to make on the show.”

America's Got Talent returns May 31st on NBC


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